We publish a complete free-to-read short story on the web every Thursday. The newest story is below. See all stories.
The gloom of the dark alley is partly a result of being hidden from the sun, partly the effect of popular embellishment. Everyone who grew up in the alleys has heard the threats from their parents – “Fuss, and I’ll throw you into the dark alley!” – and been scared into silence. When that generation became mothers and fathers, they used the same words to frighten their children. Two generations of rumor had, you might say, created the dark all...
Speaking recently at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chinese author Yan Lianke (閻連科) spoke about the ominous rise of a "warm and fuzzy" kind of Chinese literature (温暖的文学) that the government, readers and critics all find acceptable. Here is an excerpt from notes taken at the talk (thus they may not be his exact words) which appear in an article 中國文學的唱衰者 at the newly launched (and interesting) Chinese-language web site, theinitiam.com:
By Bruce Humes, May 1 '16, 7:51p.m.
According to a 2016-04-28 report (战略投资) in The Paper (澎湃讯), Thinkingdom Media Group Ltd (新经典文化) has made a “strategic investment” in France’s Editions Philippe Picquier. The report does not specify the $ amount or portion of the French publisher that is now in Chinese hands. Picquier is already a major French-language publisher of Chinese fiction writing including titles by Yu Hua, Wang Anyi, Alai, Su Tong, Han Shaogong, Bi feiyu, Chi Zijian, Ge Fei, Liang Hong and Li Er.
Some 15,000 copies of Wang Anyi’s 《长恨歌》(Le Chant des regrets éternels) have sold in French, according to the news item. Picquier's first venture into the world of translated Chinese popular fiction publishing was apparently Wei Hui's naughty Shanghai Baby, back in the early 2000s.
It will be interesting to see if and how Thinkingdom uses Picquier as a platform for the campaign to bring more contemporary Chinese literature in translation to the Francophone world.
By Bruce Humes, April 30 '16, 7:44p.m.
Author Yue Tao - event in London on 4 May
Talk and discussion with author Yue Tao, about her book Shanghai Blue, in London on 4 May, at 18.30. Contact email@example.com by 1 May to reserve a place. £5/£8.
Chen Zhongshi, Shaanxi-based author of the 20th-century classic, White Deer Plain (白鹿原, 陈忠实著), has died.
1) White Deer Plain has been published in French, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Anyone working on the English, and if not, why not?
2) The novel was published in 1993. Any insights into why he wrote relatively little thereafter?
3) How to render the first line of White Deer Plain --- especially 房 ---:
By Bruce Humes, April 29 '16, 7:47p.m.
Hao Jingfang nominated for this year's Hugo Awards
Hao Jingfang has been nominated for this year's Hugo Awards with her novel "Folding Beijing"
Reclaiming the Evenki Narrative: Last Shaman’s Daughter Tells her People’s 20th-century Tale
There are only 30,000 or so Evenki (鄂温克族) on the Chinese side of the Sino-Russian border. But this Tungusic-speaking, reindeer-herding people — particularly the group known as the Aoluguya Evenki — has been the subject of several award-winning documentaries and even a novel that won the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2008. According to an article on the China Writer’s Association web site, a new novel — 驯鹿角上的色带 — featuring the Evenki will launch end April.
Natascha Bruce talks about starting out as a Chinese-to-English translator: "....it actually never occurred to me to make the link between literature existing in translation, and there being real people out there creating those translations. I don’t know what I would have said I thought happened, if pushed? That once you have studied Chinese for one hundred years and can prove, for certain, that you know everything – will catch every single hidden reference to a Tang poem without missing a beat – there’s a special ceremony and you are given a laptop made of jade and a library of books, and told to go forth and be the person to make them accessible to the English-reading world, something mystical like that."
By Nicky Harman, April 21 '16, 4:11p.m.
Every year, the LTC hosts wall-to-wall panels and discussions about the highlights and lowlights of being a translator, and the business of translation in general, for the whole three days. We didn’t keep any notes but, thankfully, others did. Here’s a selection of blogs and articles.
By Nicky Harman, April 19 '16, 5:31a.m.
For London folk: Centre of Taiwan Studies
"Masked Dolls" - An evening with the Taiwanese Author Shih Chiung-Yu.
28 April 2016, 7:00 PM, at Brunei Gallery, Room: B102, School of Oriental and African Studies, Malet Street, London WC1
By Nicky Harman, April 15 '16, 9:28a.m.
The big recent news in Chinese children's literature is Cao Wenxuan's winning of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award, sometimes called the "Nobel Prize for Children's Literature". It's a big deal inside China, where the media closely watches the progress of the prize.
Like the Nobel, the prize is given to a writer for their entire oeuvre, not for any book in particular, but despite this everyone still points to works in particular. In this case, that's probably Bronze and Sunflower, translated by Helen Wang and published in the UK last year by Walker Books. In honor of the win, we conducted an email interview with Helen about her views on Cao's works (in case you didn't know, Helen is also one of the editors of Read Paper Republic, and is currently to be found representing PR at the London Book Fair). See below for the full interview.
By Eric Abrahamsen, April 13 '16, 5:42a.m.
Paper Republic shortlisted for International Excellence Award at London Bookfair 2016
Paper Republic is one of the three organisations shortlisted for the Literary Translation Initiative Award:
Words Without Borders
Ming Dynasty Looney Tunes: Journey to the West in Popular Culture
Cut off my head and I’ll still go on talking,
Lop off my arms and I’ll sock you another.
Chop off my legs and I’ll carry on walking,
Carve up my guts and I’ll put them together.
[…] To bath in hot oil is really quite nice,
A warm tub that makes all the dirt gone.
–Journey to the West, Chapter 46 (translated by W.J.F. Jenner, Foreign Language Press)
So speaks Sun Wukong, better known in English as the Monkey King, after Monkey, British sinophile Arthur Waley’s enduring early 20th century translation of Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West 西游记. Thanks to Waley’s judicious to abridgement of the massive Ming dynasty novel into a much shorter and (arguably) more readable novel, for a time at least The Great Sage was able to enjoy an equal measure of fame both at home and abroad. Although the novel is less well known today, nearly a century later, Monkey has many ways found an even greater success—as a cartoon character.
To my knowledge, no systematic study of Monkey King comics, cartoons, animations, plays, live action TV dramas, movies, etc. has ever been attempted. Perhaps the task is too daunting, or perhaps it seems redundant, given the very ubiquity of Monkey King merchandise and media already flooding the Chinese marketplace–especially in year of monk-orological significance, Anno Simian. At times I even suspect that stronger emotions may be at play: as one friend (Chinese American, but also an American living in China) put it when I mentioned that I was writing a paper on the topic, “Oh god, which of the eight million versions are you going to do?”
Cao Wenxuan wins Hans Christian Andersen 2016 author award
IBBY is proud to announce the winners for the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award – the world’s most prestigious children’s book award and the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award - awarded to two groups or institutions whose outstanding activities are judged to be making a lasting contribution to reading promotion programmes for children and young people.
Congratulations to Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners:
Author: Cao Wenxuan from China
Illustrator: Rotraut Susanne Berner from Germany
Paper Republic is looking for an intern in Beijing to work with us on
literary and publishing events this year, from late spring to early
fall. Think you might be interested? Drop us a line!
What’s going on this year
In addition to our usual activities, Paper Republic is running two
larger events this year, and need more hands on deck. In late June
we’re hosting a publishing fellowship, where publishers and editors
will come from around the world to spend a week in Beijing, getting to
know Chinese writers and publishers. Then in late August is the
Beijing International Book Fair, when we’ll be conducting a small literary festival
as part of the Fair.
Who we’re looking for
We need someone in Beijing with an interest (and preferably
experience) in literature, publishing, and translation. We’re really
hoping to find someone who is strong in both English and Chinese, but
don’t mind what nationality you are. We need someone who’s organized,
motivated and creative, and who thrives on the unexpected.
We need someone who can dedicate at least fifteen hours week to the
job, preferably more, and who can join us at our office in Beijing at
least two days a week.
What you’ll be doing
Helping us plan literary and publishing events, arranging itineraries
and schedules, writing news copy, liaising with publishers and
editors, and picking famous writers up from the airport.
What we can provide you
A fun working environment with entertaining co-workers, a chance to
meet all manner of people, a small monthly stipend, letters of
recommendation, good coffee, and some unique experiences.
If you think you fit the bill, and are available from around April to
the end of August, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
By Eric Abrahamsen, March 30 '16, 1:40a.m.
"The Novella in Chinese Literature"
Charles A. Laughlin and Liu Hongtao introduce By the River: Seven Novellas from Twenty-first Century China, curated by coeditor Liu Hongtao 刘洪涛, vol. 6 in the Chinese Literature Today book series at the University of Oklahoma Press.
Includes: Xu Zechen’s “Voice Change”, Chi Zijian’s “Flurry of Blessings” and Han Shaogong’s “Mountain Songs from the Heavens".
Ruined City at the Complete Review
Much of what happens -- most of the 'action', it seems -- is pretty everyday; indeed, Ruined City is remarkable for its willingness to putter along through the everyday, in contrast to so much modern fiction that insists up spectacular and dramatic incident after incident. Here it goes so far that there's a great deal of discussion about (as well as going to) toilets -- from the city-planning stage (there's still a great reliance on public facilities in Xijing, and with the growth of the city a need for more to be built) to the domestic. From arranging meals and meetings to various small items different characters purchase, Ruined City offers an intimate account of what seem like the not too exciting lives of these characters. But that's not quite how it works out: going on at length does serve a purpose; Ruined City does add up to something more, its cumulative and final effect quietly devastating.
I find searching for ways to make my work more efficient to be one of the most effective and rewarding methods of procrastination. Here are a few of the apps, websites and pieces of machinery I’ve discovered on that quest.
By David Haysom, March 20 '16, 8:32a.m.
Banned in Beijing: Jia Pingwa, Bei Tong, and Eileen Chang
"Ruined City is notable for its almost complete indifference to its historical moment. While the Cultural Revolution is referred to in places, it’s clear that Jia wants his characters to seem neither traumatized by nor interested in politics. They live in a tiny world of their own making and seem — like artists everywhere — to thrive on life’s small dissatisfactions. That may be the novel’s most shocking quality of all."
NYRB: The Translation Paradox
All this is understandable. Who wants to be the spoilsport to stand up and say that many pages of the Zibaldone were miserably translated and that to an extent the project was a missed opportunity? But I believe the question goes deeper than this and is perhaps symptomatic of the time we live in and the diminishing importance of the written word, and in particular of literature, in our society. Simply, many readers, many critics, don’t notice. Or if they do, don’t particularly care. They read for content. The clamor of idioms about us has become so loud that we hardly notice when a translation, or indeed any piece of prose, is cluttered with incongruities. In fact, the writer whose work was above all an achievement of style and linguistic density, an exploration of what could be done with the language, directed at a community who could understand the nature of the experiment—Joyce, Woolf, Gadda, Faulkner—is largely a creature of the past. And where, as in the case of the Zibaldone, the reader or critic finds sentences that are unreadable and quite likely skips or abandons the book, they imagine that this is because the original was of this nature and the translation necessarily impenetrable. They may even admire the translator for having got it into English at all.
Amid a Sea of Red Flags
Man Booker Int'l Prize: One Chinese Novel on Long List
Yan Lianke's The Four Books (四书) is one of 13 novels that has been longlisted for The Man Book International Prize.
Congrats to Yan Lianke and translator Carlos Rojas, who would split a hefty 50,000 pounds sterling if the book --- unpublished in the PRC, naturally --- wins.
At the start of 2016, we decided to revisit the 2009 dream-list of untranslated Chinese novels recommended by the Paper Republic team. We wanted to see which of them had been translated (see update here), and to invite our readers to recommend titles for a new 2016 list.
Translators and agents, if you are working on samples, we’d like to add this information to the database – we can tag them as “excerpts” - you can search for a list of excerpts here. If you tell us that an "excerpt” is available from [a named person or job-title] at [literary agency], we can add this too! Think of it as free publicity!
By Helen Wang, March 7 '16, 8:32a.m.
"Depictions of homosexuality, extramarital affairs, underage love and the supernatural are no longer allowed in television dramas under new regulations in mainland China," according to a report at Hong Kong Free Press (New Rules).
These rules are apparently already coming into affect. According to WSJ's China RealTime, " 'Heroin' (also known as “Addiction” in Chinese), a 15-episode Web drama about romance among teenage boys, was earlier this week taken down from major Chinese video streaming sites." This suggests that the ban applies not just to TV.
Will this ban on the portrayal of homosexuality, and "other abnormal sexual relationships and behavior," be extended to published writing as our man on the ground in Nanhai, XJP, exerts his Victorian values? Hard to say. For now, it would be neat to have a list of Chinese fiction --- particularly translated fiction or Chinese fiction you'd like to see translated --- touching on LGBT romance, lifestyles and issues. Please add to the list via the comments section.
By Bruce Humes, March 4 '16, 7:10p.m.
Announced: Winners of “Nationalities Literature” Magazine Competition
Publishers of the state-sponsored, all-China 民族文学 (Nationalities Literature) monthly magazine have announced the award winners for articles published in 2015 (《民族文学》年度奖揭晓). The magazine appears in 6 languages: Kazakh, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan and Uyghur.
Soft Power Strategy: Where Does China Figure in Turkey’s Literary Translation Program?
3 Tips for International Publishers Who Want to Do Business in China
The chairman of China South Publishing & Media Group, Gong Shuguang, offers advice to international publishers who want to work with Chinese companies.
Yu Xinqiao and Yunte Huang at the Brooklyn Library, March 17
Born in Fujian and raised in Zhejiang, Yu Xinqiao is one of the most popular and important poets in China today. After calling for a “Chinese Renaissance Movement” in 1993, Xinqiao was subsequently jailed for eight years. His poem “If I Have to Die,” set to music, has become an enormous arena-rock hit and stirring anthem of defiance. Yunte Huang, author of Charlie Chan and other works, is the editor of the new collection The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature: Writings from the Mainland in the Long Twentieth Century, a panoramic literary anthology that includes writers from Nobel laureates Gao Xingjian and Mo Yan to Bei Dao, Yu Hua, Yu Xinqiao and others. Curated and hosted by Anderson Tepper.
As we announced last month, on March 14th London's Free Word Centre will be hosting "That Damned Thing She Said", a speed bookclubbing event at which translators Roddy Flagg, Nicky Harman, Emily Jones and Helen Wang will be discussing short stories by authors Feng Tang, Fu Yuli, Li Jingrui and Liu Qingbang. (You can find out more and purchase tickets here.)
We are delighted to announce that we will be holding the same event in Beijing as part of the Bookworm Literary Festival on March 12th. The China line-up: Eric Abrahamsen, Dave Haysom, Nick Stember, plus one more participant TBC.
UPDATE: We can now reveal that our fourth participant will be the writer Karoline Kan!
Tickets are available to purchase now online or at the Bookworm.
By David Haysom, February 21 '16, 6a.m.
Back in 2009 the Paper Republic team put together this dream-list of untranslated Chinese novels. It seems like it's about time to revisit the original list, see what progress has been made, and put together a new 2016 edition!
We're calling on you, our readers, to make your suggestions! Tell us about the Chinese novels you'd most like to see translated. Get your suggestions to us by Sunday 28th February, and we'll publish the 2016 dream-list in the first week of March.
By David Haysom, February 21 '16, 12a.m.
Feb 19-21: Events at Taipei Int’l Book Exhibition
Featuring authors Fan Xiaoqing, Qian Zhongshu, Dai Lai, Wang Dajin, Yan Huajun and Huang Fan.
By Helen Wang, February 18 '16, 2:10a.m.